New York City police officers are no longer permitted to wear the NYPD logo or shield on T-shirts, pins, hats or in any other form unless it is part of their uniform or they have prior permission from a police committee, according to a new edict issued by the department.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly issued the interim order “effective immediately” on Jan. 19 as a revision to the “Performance on Duty-Prohibited Conduct” section of the NYPD’s patrol guide.
According to the order, “wearing any item of apparel which contains a Department logo or shield or in any way identifies its wearer with the New York City Police Department unless approved by the Uniform and Equipment Review Committee prior to being worn by a member of the service, uniformed or civilian, on or off duty” would constitute a form of misconduct.
The ban extends to the use of the logo “in artistic or mural form, in caricature or cartoon-like representation" or on items like pins, jewelry, hats, mugs, clothing and patches.
The order suggests that officers currently in possession of such items would either have to toss them or get written permission from the committee to keep them. The reason for the amendment to the patrol guide wasn’t clear.
In a statement, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said, "The department wants to deter the unprofessional appearance associated with unauthorized police-related logos and slogans."
The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association said in a statement that the rule is a "clear violation of the officers' free speech rights" and possibly other rights.
"The PBA believes the order is patently unlawful and we will defend our members' rights," the statement said.
Mayor Bloomberg backed his police commissioner on Tuesday when asked about the rule.
"He should set the standards. You can't have it both ways. PD, we say that they're on 24/7. When they're not officially at work ... they're still police officers and that's one of the things that enhances the safety in our city,” Bloomberg said. “And so they're not totally independent even when they're not on duty. ... I'll leave it to Ray."